Tuesday 14 December 2021

UK's Portable Antiquities Scheme Claims "Millionth Record" as a "Success"

    Truth in public life in UK  

Following my post a few weeks ago that prompted the PAS to hide the counter of number of records on the home page of their Database (I use the term loosely), the PAS themselves are now themselves claiming they have created their "millionth" record of finds made by members of the public.
The problem is that... according to the official statistics, it is not their millionth record. How difficult can it be to get a computer to count a number of pieces of information, eh? Yesterday there were some self-gratulatory fluff pieces in the British media presumably generated from information supplied by the British Museum's press office. In one (Rachel Hall​, 'Medieval pendant is millionth archaeological find by British public', Guardian 14th December 2021) we read 
"Among the finds was the millionth archaeological find made by the British public, a copper alloy medieval harness pendant found in Lincolnshire". 
That is incredibly misleading and I am sure the British Museum today is scrambling to get the newspaper concerned to publish a correction. No? 

The real "millionth" find made by a member of the public with a metal detector after the start of the PAS was actually (according to the original HAAEC that pointed this out many years ago) was probably made and not reported some time in the early months of 2000, 21 years ago. The actual number of finds hoiked out of archaeological sites and assemblages today is (I estimate) 9.76 million. So to proudly claim a 1:9 rate of information recovery as a "success" is pure Boris-British-bonkery. Not only that, it is failing to keep the public (who pay a lot of money to PAS) totally uninformed. When will the public get the Truth? When will they start asking what the truth is, in fact? Does anybody actually care anyway? 

This is quite apart from the very disturbing fact that according to the PAS' own database: "Statistical analysis of the database for Monday 1st January 1996 until Monday 22nd November 2021" (when that pendant [NLM-B7AFF3] was recorded, "22 days ago" by Martin Foreman in North Lincolnshire Museum, Scunthorpe), the actual publicly documented figures are
"Total objects recorded: 1551100 Total records: 997502"
That is still 2498 records short of a million. (see here too). 

What is going on, UK? What is the actual objective problem in just telling it like it is? Why do we see nothing but smoke and mirrors from the lot of you, and a total lack of care concerning the establishment of the true facts as part of the public duty of British archaeologists?

1 comment:

Hougenai said...

"Among the finds was the millionth archaeological find made by the British public'- A claim too far or just a bit of a fib?
The PAS database is not the sole means of public recording of archaeological objects (and sites). For my money the County SMR is far more relevant databse and doesn't kowtow to treasure hunters.

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